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For Archie

Every time I look at you my heart breaks just a little bit more. The years seem to have passed by so quickly, my once bouncy puppy full of boundless energy and mischief is growing old before my eyes and I find myself scared of what is to come, I literally can't deal with the thought of my life without you in it.

Thinking back to my pre-dog days, it is safe to say that I definitely wasn't ready for the impact that you, my little old man, would have on my life. I had never had a dog of my own before and I was very much of the mindset that a dog was simply a dog. A dog would know his place within my home and remain just that...a dog! Ha! What did I know!

The death of my Father had left a massive void in my life. Both my husband and my daughter worked away from home at the time and I found myself wandering aimlessly around our empty, and now far too big house. Struggling daily with my Dads empty bedroom and sinking deeper into a sad and lonely hole that I couldn't seem to pull myself out of, I begged my husband to let me get a puppy, I needed something to nurture and care for.

And so it was, here you were - you instantly put a smile on my face and very soon filled the gaping hole in my heart that I believed at the time was unfillable...Archie, the tiny bundle of blue velvety fur that brought me pure joy, and from day one I loved you wholeheartedly.

It was obvious to everybody who met you that you were mine, even in those very early days we had a bond, unlike anything I have ever experienced before, wherever I went you trotted behind me like an excited bouncy shadow! Eager to explore wherever it was that I happened to be going and desperate to join in and help with whatever I was doing! Determined to please and sitting to tall attention with that look of pride on your little face!

In those early days you had far too much skin for the size of your body and your paws were so big you would tumble clumsily over them. Your lack of space awareness made me laugh continually and those big blue eyes melted me just a little bit more each time I looked into them. As you developed and grew the protective instinct that I felt for you was soon repaid, we were teammates and 100% safe when at each others side.

And now here we are, eight very short years later and you are an old man, your face is grey and your eyes are getting stress if you can no longer see where I am so I shout to reassure you, I lift your bum into the car - nowadays we drive further than we walk, and rather than throwing the ball for you to chase I pass it to you gently. I've got your back.

I clean your tired feet and worn down pads, grooming the bits of your coat that you are finding harder to reach yourself, every little lump and bump I find scares me just a little bit more than the last and I kiss your grey nose whilst I sing you songs...I no longer feel your wet kiss on my face during the night when you come to check on me, instead, it is me that wakes up and checks on you. I tuck your blanket back around you making sure you are warm enough and then tiptoe back into bed.

I bring treats to you so that you conserve energy and don't have to struggle to stand, and when teatime comes around I encourage you to eat your biscuits whilst at the same time praising you with each mouthful that you swallow, desperate for you to retain your strength and desperate to stretch out the time that you have left here with me.

We have a much deeper respect and understanding of each other than I could have ever imagined possible, a dog is so much more than that, you are so much more than that and I never expected any of this.

I didn't think that loving you would ever hurt this much, but there is one thing I am absolutely certain of, no matter how much this final stage of your life hurts me I wont let it hurt you.

I look into your old eyes and I tell you, however much you love me...just know that I love you more.

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